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3.8 out of 5 stars
Saw II (Widescreen Edition)
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52 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2006
Format: DVD
The diabolic Jigsaw is back in the follow up to the smash "Saw" which came out of nowhere to become one of the biggest grossing horror films of all time. Not content to rest on the mayhem he created in the first film, Jigsaw is back kidnapping those he deems unworthy of life, and forcing them to earn their lives back in a series of brutal and bizarre games, where death is all to often the result.

The sequel picks up shortly after the events of the first film where Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) is investigating yet another victim. The fact that the victim is missing a puzzle shaped piece of skin leaves no doubt as to who is behind this killing, and Matthews and his task force set up their efforts to stop the killer before he can strike again.

A sudden inspiration leads Matthews and his team to a factory where they soon discover Jigsaw amongst all of his toys and traps. The frail Jigsaw is dying from a terminal illness, and he reveals to Matthews that he has a game underway, one where a group of people are trapped in a remote house filled with traps that are also filling up with a deadly gas. Only those who can survive the traps and decipher the clues will be able to locate the antidotes and survive the mayhem.

Matthews is even more determined to find the locale of the house as his son is one of the individuals trapped inside slowly dying from the poison. Matthews and his team can see what is happening in the house via a video monitor and while the team attempts to determine the location and save the individuals, Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), plays a dangerous game with Matthews as he attempts to interrogate him for information.

The film moves back and forth from the interrogation to the individuals trapped in the house and keeps the tension going. While not as claustrophobic or as gory as the original, "Saw 2"

benefits from an interesting premise and a rousing finale that sets the stages for the pending "Saw 3". Some may find a bit of issue with the pacing as it does not contain as the tension and scares are scarcer than they are in the first release.

Solid performances throughout makes "Saw 2" a cut above most horror films and is not to be missed by fans of the original.

Bonus Materials Include

Commentary with director Darren Lynn Bousman, Donnie Wahlberg and Beverley Mitchell

Jigsaw's Game Making-of Featurette

Bits and Pieces: The Props of Saw II

Bits and Pieces: The Traps of Saw II

Featurettes

Storyboards

4 stars out of 5

Gareth Von Kallenbach
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is back! this time he traps a helpless group of several people people (Shawnee Smith, Erik Knudsen, Tim Burd, Franky G, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Glenn Plummer, Tony Nappo) in a booby-trapped filled house conducted by Jigsaw and his sick twisted ideas. Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) discovers Jigsaw himself for he must play the game if his son and the other victims can survive.

Enjoyable and fairly grisly sequel to the suprise instant new horror classic "Saw" has writer-and-director James Wan as executive producer. The acting is good in some places but there is some more memorable moments of torture and gore such as the now infamous cringe-inducing "Pit of Syringes" and the gunblast to the eyeball boobie trap, though nowhere as great as the original this is still a fairly watchable and violent sequel.

This unrated uncut 2-Disc DVD set contains the alternate unrated cut not shown in theaters with excellent extras like two audio commentaries, theatrical trailer, a fun "Play Me" set top navigation game much like the one on the "Nightmare on Elm Street" boxset, The making of "Saw II" multi-featurette, "Zombie" a short student film from the director of this movie, and "The story behind the story" multi-featurette.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I was not originally planning to see "Saw II" in the theater. "Saw" was the last horror film I made a point of going to see instead of just waiting for the DVD, but that was on the strength of strong reviews and since "Saw II" just opened today the critical and public verdicts have yet to be determined. But then I saw the trailer and discovered that Beverly Mitchell was in the cast and that tipped the scale towards going to the first showing on the first day, because the possibility of seeing Lucy Camden Kinkirk die a horrible death in a splatter flick appeals to me (the character drives me up the wall). I know lots of people went to go see "House of Wax" just to watch Paris Hilton die on screen, so it is not like I am the only sick person on the planet.

It goes without saying that your enjoyment of "Saw II" is predicated entirely on your having seen the original. There is not a recap per se, but we begin with a reminder of exactly the sort of games that Jigsaw plays. Then we are introduced to Detective Eric Mason (Donnie Wahlberg), who is brought in on the case because Jigsaw has left him a message. Mason is one of those world-weary cops who has enough personal and professional problems without having a psycho killer playing mind games with him, so he does not want to play. But of course Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) forces the issue as once again there are games within games within games.

So, while Jigsaw is playing his little game with the police, on the monitors we see the interiors of a house when Jigsaw has trapped a group of people like rats. I do not need to get ahead of the movie in terms of introducing the characters beyond pointing out that we already know two of them. One is Daniel (Erik Knudsen), who is Marsh's son, and the other is Amanda (Shawnee Smith), who has the distinction of being the only person ever to have survived one of Jigsaw's little games. The game this time has two parts. The first is that they are all breathing a toxic gas. A door to the outside will open in three hours, but unless they get to an antidote they will all be dead within two ("There will be blood," Jigsaw promises). The second part of the game is that each person in the house will get to play their own little personal game in an effort to get their hands on the antidote.

If you are expecting everybody to take turns playing their own personal game, then you are going to be disappointed, because that possibility disappears before they even get out of the first room. With more than two characters playing the game we certainly do not get to know any of them as well as we did last time. Still, "Saw II" plays off of the original, which is exactly what you want it to do, and one of the strengths of this film is how it finds a new way to do old things in a new way, which is also what you want it to do. Unlike most contemporary horror films (e.g., "Jeepers Creepers"), this one has a better payoff than a set up. At least that is what I was thinking when I was sitting in the dark watching the end credits. So while I do not think many people will find "Saw II" superior to the original, I also think most people will not be as disappointed watching "Saw II" as they usually are when they watch a sequel to a horror film they liked.

Director Darren Lynn Bousman ("Butterfly Dreams," "Identity Lost") co-wrote the script with Leigh Whannell, who came up with the original story for "Saw" and wrote the screenplay with director James Wan, and I have a complaint in that the director undercuts the writers and actors at key moments. Take the opening sequence, where within a minute of the movie starting they have come up with a situation where you want to close your eyes rather than see what is happening on screen. But just when you are about to close your eyes and keep them shut, editor Kevin Greutert goes into overdrive and we are at the other end of the spectrum where things are flashing by so quickly you cannot tell what you are seeing. That strikes me as rather counterproductive for this type of a movie and is the reason I ended up rounding down on this one (and not because of what does or does not happen to Mitchell's character). Despite that, "Saw II" should deliver the goods this Hallowee weekend, which is just what horror fans need to hear.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2006
Format: DVD
After watching the incredible SAW that graced our screens last year - it was a given that I would see the MUCH ANTICIPATED sequel.

This film seems to have more of a story-line than the original... JIG-SAW is at it again and this time locks up 8 people inside an abandoned, creepy old house. They are trapped in the building and a lethal gas has been pumped into the house for a while. They have exactly 2 hours to each, find a room marked for their attention, crack the game needed to be played and won and inject the antidote into their systems. They also have the option to play each game a little "further and harder" in order to find a 2nd Antidote : perhaps for a friend they have made amongst the 8 strangers. Inevitably, going for the 2nd one - may end in death.

To add an incredible dimension to the story, DONNIE WAHLBERG, who plays a cop in the film : catches JIG-SAW at the start of the film and then finds out that JIG-SAW has his son in he house. The race against time plays out awesomely in the film, as does the films running time and the fact that each and every character in the house is running closer to death from the lethal gas.

DONNIE WALHBERG is awesome, as is the cast of basic unknows. TOBIN BELL (JIGSAW) is incredibly creepy.

And finally : if you thought the original ending came at BREAK-NECK-SPEED... this one is going to hit you LIKE A SACK OF BRICKS TRAVELLING AT MACH 1...

As is the basic rule for sequels : THE BODY COUNT IS ALWAYS MUCH HIGHER... THE DEATH SCENES ARE ALWAYS MORE ELABORATE AND OH YES... THERE WILL BE BLOOD!!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2005
I took my friends to see this movie yesterday. As a fan of the first, I expected this one to be awesome, too. It is.

INTRO: The original Saw was quite a horror movie. It told about a killer who would put his victims in deadly situations, and they had to figure out how to get out.

The ending was quite a cliffhanger, so we KNEW there would be a sequel. And now we have it. And the sequel rocks!

THE STORY: This takes a few months after the first. Det. Mathews has found Jigsaw and it seems that it will end swell. But Jigsaw reveals that he has Mathews's son in one of his games. The son, along with other people, are trapped in a house filled with nerve gas. They will have to find antidotes to the nerve gas while avoiding traps to survive. Can Mathews find where Jiggy's "game" is? Can Mathews's son survive?

OPINION: What a great horror ride! Suspense, horror, and tons of blood! What I liked about this film is that it goes back to the roots of horror. With all the PG-13 horror movies out, it's nice to see an R-rated one for once. Plus, the ending has a HUGE twist.

If you liked the original, you'll love Saw II!

Oh, and BTW, this film has made over $30 million on it's opening weekend. It's a hit!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 12, 2006
Format: DVD
Great sequel
I saw this movie in the theater and I really enjoyed it! It is in my opinion way better that the first Saw. It keeps you guessing the whole movie and just when you think you have it figured out, another twist develops and you're wrong again. I really loved it and look forward to adding the DVD to my collection.

Don't get me wrong the first saw is ok but its rare that a sequel is better than the first...

I just wanna say you have 2 types of people on amazon, the type who really likes something and the type who hates on everyone for liking it, not because they think its bad but because they don't want to jump on the wagon like everyone else and admit its a good movie...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 9, 2007
Format: DVD
I was excited about this film, truly excited. I really enjoyed the first `Saw' film and just had the highest of hopes for the sequel. I think that's why in the end it proved to be such a disappointment. Don't get me wrong, when I walked out of the theater I was in heaven. I loved what I had just seen. It was gruesome, disturbing and to an extent quite scary. After a second watch through though I realized that this film is so far below the original it's ridiculous. The concept for this film is just too simple when compared to the original film. The only similarity between the two is the villain and even that takes an unwarranted twist. Yes, the final sequence was a head-scratcher but it couldn't hold a candle to the mastery that was the original `Saw' conclusion.

The film centers again around mastermind Jigsaw as he sets up yet another elaborate trap, this time collecting a group of ex-convicts in an abandoned house filled with deadly gas with antidotes spread throughout the house. In order for them to get these antidotes they must do some horrific things. One of the victims is young Daniel Matthews whose father, Police Detective Eric Matthews, has captured Jigsaw and is trying desperately (and quite uncivilly) to force into giving up the houses location.

Sadly `Saw II' becomes a showcase for gruesome deaths and disturbing sights over mental breakdown and mind bending horror. I say `sadly' for a reason. The original `Saw' was not all that gory. Sure there were some bloody sequences and some disturbing events but for the most part `Saw' was a mental game, a mind tease if you will. `Saw II' feels like a cop out almost. It feels like any other slasher film and that is a disappointment since I expected so much more.

There are some good things about this film, Tobin Bell for one who expands upon his original role as Jigsaw with some exceptional results, but story wise `Saw II' fails. As far as the death scenes are concerned, sure they make you squirm and that's a plus right, and that pit of syringes still gets to me when I think about it, but all of this can't make up for the lack or originality. It's dark, it's disturbing, it's gory and it's very uninspired. I have yet to see the third and fourth `Saw' offerings mainly because this was such a let down. I'm sure I'll get to the rest of the series to form my own opinions; hopefully they will be an improvement.

The acting here is an improvement upon the original, well, at least some of it is. Donnie Wahlberg (who could be brother Mark's twin I swear) has a much better grasp on his character than Cary Elwes did. Shawnee Smith does decently here as does Erik Knudsen and of course Tobin Bell. The rest of the cast is decent at best. Franky G is horrific, Beverley Mitchell (from `Seventh Heaven'...what's she doing here?) is annoying as all get out and Tim Burd is just plain non-effective. Emmanuelle Vaugier does little else but be really hot and Tony Nappo is gone too quickly to make much of an impact so that leaves Glenn Plummer to pick up the pieces and he does a decent but not too impressive a job. Still, the acting is an improvement if you will.

In the end I can't say much else then this was a major disappointment when compared to what it could have been but when you place it in the perspective of `most' (I say `most' because there are a select few horror films that truly are brilliant) horror films of late then this fits in the with pack as disturbing, gruesome and brainless.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
This second installment of the Saw series is by far the worst of the bunch. Sequels are always a bad idea, especially when you're up against something as brilliant as the original Saw. Let's face it. This is a premise with severely limited room for expansion. The first Saw was a beautifully wretched and gruesome concept that was played out great on film. But this sequel didn't have much of a chance of matching the sweet bloody ambiance of its pedecessor. Like most sequels, since the premise of the movie was explained during the plot of the original flick, the writers don't feel the need to weigh down part II with a storyline. They just set the villian out in public again and have him wreek havoc and spill more blood with greater special effects than the first. And as always, it makes the sequel an insult to the original and a basic disappointment. They didn't even try to stand up to the original with this movie. The plot about all the people locked in a house with nerve gas was just so weak and contrived!! What was Lee W. thinking when he did this??? It was an okay movie over all. Blood, carnage and special effects are always fun to a point...but for the most part, this movie was the average expectation of a sequel...trying too hard to live off the name of the original, not bothering with a movie as long as we can depend on special effects. They really rushed through making a sequel before they had a real movie in mind. As much as I love carnage, I hate the obvious cheap capitalism displayed in this quick knock-off. If you like gratuitous violence and blood, this flick has a certain charm........but don't expect this to be as good as Saw.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
"Saw II" slaps us on the torture rack, then tightens the screws until every last gasp, shiver and shriek has been squeezed right out of us.

Just when we think we've endured enough cruel and unusual punishment, director and co-writer Darren Lynn Bousman takes it up a notch with the zeal of a modern-day Marquis de Sade.

That this first-time director performs this evisceration of our nerves, and does it so well, will likely touch off even more concerns about the extreme violence in today's movies. As it should, really.

But, for the tough-as-Leatherface horror crowd who want to be bruised and battered by their entertainment, "Saw II" represents a cut above in the genre.

The sequel to last year's sleeper Halloween hit wastes no time reintroducing us to the grisly handiwork of Jigsaw, a terminally ill serial killer hell-bent on testing people who have made messes of their lives.

In the first "Saw," Cary Elwes and co-writer Leigh Whannell played two unlucky guys who wake up to find themselves chained in a dirty subterranean room, with a saw as their only means of escape. The scrappy first film had an estimated budget of $1.2 million, and went on to make more than $55 million during its theatrical run. It's been reviled, praised and rabidly discussed on the Internet.

"Saw" had a shocker of an ending, an original villain and a delightful scream-queen performance from used-to-be golden boy Elwes ("The Princess Bride").

In the sequel, conceived right after the first struck a box-office jugular, the cheap thrills remain, but the surprises are mostly gone. There are a few good twists in "Saw II," but none that rivals the pop-up corpse shocker from the original.

As in the original, Jigsaw uses a puppet as an alter ego to let the cops know why he's punishing sinners unappreciative of what life has given them. A warped medieval mentality runs homicidally through "Saw II" as "screw-ups" are flambeed, thrown into a pit of hypodermic needles and clubbed on the head with a spiked bat.

For the sequel, Bousman and co-writer Whannell up the body count, stranding eight victims in a booby-trapped house that looks like Freddy Krueger was its interior decorator. The eight must figure out how to get at an antidote before poison gas pumped into the vents does them in. Among those trapped inside is the son of a burnt-out detective, Eric Mathews (Donnie Wahlberg of the defunct "Boomtown" TV show).

Of the new victims, the quick-fused Franky G. gives the meanest and most capable performance. Others seem to be standard horror bait.

"Saw II" is a tighter, more focused film than its predecessor. But even though this sequel is well-made, it lacks the over-the-top campiness of the first movie.

What "Saw II" needs is a wailing and moaning Elwes to make us snicker when the bloodletting is just too much to handle. In "Saw II," everyone is deadly serious about the carnage, which makes the film effective, but also unshakably disturbing.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2005
As a Christian I always find it funny when people accuse me of legalism, and hypocrisy. For don't we live in a world where everybody expects everybody to do and act the way we want them too? Don't we all at some point ostracize people for being a little off o r out of place? The freaks call the beautiful stuck up, and the beautiful pay no attention to the ugly. We flip off the guy who cuts us off and we hate him because he inconvenienced us for one small moment. We're all guilty of doing somebody wrong, and then when we are wronged we expect the other person to apologize. We want vengeance, and we want the world to think and act just like us. If not we hate them. Trust me we're all guilty at some point, even I am

That is just one of the wild thoughts that permeated my mind while sitting through SAW II. Yes, I'll admit it's odd that I would have a somewhat religious epiphany while people are hacking themselves to pieces. But that's the beauty of Horror. It's about processing the horror into something productive, while enjoying the scares.

The Jigsaw Killer (Tobin Bond) is back. This time he's locked a bunch of people in a gory fun-ouse of his own design. The house is slowly filling with a gas that will kill the inhabitants unless they can find the antidote. One of the Jigsaw Killers victims is the son of Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg), a local cop. Matthews and the local swat team have the Jigsaw Killer in their grasp. What follows is a psychological game that matches the law with a man whose unafraid to die.

SAW II is one of those rare sequels that works because you get to find out more about the psychopath. In this film we get to delve into the mind of the Jigsaw Killer (who goes by the name of John), see a little more about why and how he operates. Tobin Bond keeps him creepy and yet charismatic enough to be believable. Like a poor mans Hannibal Lecter there is a method and meaning to his madness but he's not a cartoon. He's a man on his deathbed with nothing to lose, and a theory of life that is so practical that if he channeled his concepts into motivational speaking and not murder and carnage he could be a millionaire.

I liked that the movie didn't play fast and loose with the carnage and at the same time realized when enough was enough. In this PG-13 Horror movie world it's so easy to pull back to reach a younger audience. But SAW II is smart enough to raise the bar, and let you process the mystery. Whose holding the cards? Is it the Jigsaw Killer? Is it the cops?

I also thought the ensemble in the house worked well together, I just wish the screenplay had given them more to do than just stumble around and scream at each other. I also thought the stunning revelation about "X marking the spot" came far to late for the characters to really care about who was in the picture. When your life is almost over you're not really worrying about who put you in jail.

Director Darren Lynn Bousman tries his dandiest not to make the same mistakes of the first film, by laying off the camera tricks in favor actually allowing the actors to act. Sure he wiggles the camera around a little, adds some quick cuts to places. But he doesn't use those devices to amplify action that's boring. My one little qualm was with the screenplay. I liked the stuff in the house so much more than the police procedural parts. I wished that the movie had delved into the whole numbers thing and the mysteries of the people in the house a little more.

SAW II is engrossing if you let it be. On the surface it could be construed as just another slasher knock-off. But the power lies in the Jigsaw character and how and why he's manipulating the background. It's also a film that explores our own dark side. Jigsaw's real beef with the people in the story is that their wasting their lives. Their killing their bodies, they're hurting other, and their tearing their families apart. But the truth lies in the fact that legalism, and your own pursuit to change another persons thinking can also be skewed. So the next time you cut that guy off, or the next time you cut off that guy. Just think to yourself, I've been wronged but should I really wrong back. Vengeance begets more vengeance. Sometimes it's good to walk away.
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